One of the many weird idiosyncrasies of feminism is their ability to believe the most ridiculous, obviously untrue things as long as it’s about a man. For example, the idea that men have the power in dating relationships is laughable, yet…
At every single step of dating and in every genre of relationship, I come face to face with power disparities and micro-aggressions that are tinged with misogyny. During my last serious relationship, my boyfriend hurled gendered insults — “bitch,” “crazy,” “insane” — at me when I tried to assert myself or express that I wasn’t happy about something. He would openly objectify my female friends, appraising their physical attractiveness with nominal values. I dumped him and vowed to be more discerning about the next man I called my boyfriend. The next person I dated rolled his eyes when I spoke and replied “come on, Rachel” when I asked questions about subjects I didn’t know much about. The realm of online dating brings other headaches, like being pressured by matches to send nudes, receiving unsolicited dick pics, and harassment, and verbal abuse if I take too long to reply to messages or don’t want a second date.
In my sexual experiences with men, a marked power imbalance has left me feeling vulnerable and, at times, traumatised. When I look back on past encounters through a post-#MeToo lens, I can see that a troubling proportion of my sexual experiences fell into what I’d characterise as “grey areas”— sex that’s non-criminal, but can feel violating. I experienced coercion, pain, and violence during sex that caused me trauma. During one experience, I asked the guy I was having sex with to stop because I had changed my mind. He proceeded to shout at me and yell insults until my housemate intervened and helped remove him from our house.
Perhaps it’s me, perhaps I’m picking the wrong men, I’ve told myself countless times. In an attempt to address those concerns, I have re-calibrated the choices I’ve made in selecting a partner. A few years ago, I vowed to only date men who identified as feminists, but in venturing down this path, I encountered a slew of other hurdles, principally so-called performative wokeness. This term, which has recently entered the popular lexicon, refers to people who publicly claim to care about social justice, they identify as allies to women, people of colour, LGBTQ people, and people with disabilities. In some of my liaisons with men who identified as feminists, their behaviour during our relationship ultimately did not match the values they purported to hold. Behind closed doors, there’d be micro-aggressions like gaslighting and subtle ways of patronising me that made me question my own intellect.
In reality, it’s far more complex than simply the choices I make about the type of guys I go for. Humorist and author Blythe Roberson, author of How To Date Men When You Hate Men, says dating is hard for everyone, but “dating as a straight woman is complicated by the fact that the gender you’re attracted to has vast systemic power over you.”
“This can manifest in large ways, but also in more insidious ways I used to brush off: men saying they could never be in a relationship with someone more successful than they are, or men treating me as frivolous for thinking and writing about dating at all,” says Roberson.
So basically, what she’s saying is that men have all the power because they can say mean things to her. That’s true. Of course, both sexes can and do say mean things. But, you know what’s unique to women?
The man pursues the woman and she DECIDES whether they will go out. If the man isn’t to her liking, then she DECIDES whether his compliment or flirting is welcome or creepy/sexual harassment.
The man leans in for that first kiss and she DECIDES whether it can happen.
This is the case with every physical escalation. 2nd base? Third base? Sex? He has to put himself out there and then she DECIDES if it will happen.
If he gets her pregnant, she DECIDES whether the baby will be born or not. If he wants it and she doesn’t, too bad. If he doesn’t want it and she does, too bad.
Admittedly, both men and women choose whether a relationship will happen, but if it gets to marriage, every legal protection is slanted her way. From the ridiculously outdated concept of alimony to the ludicrous idea that she should get HALF of what a man earns to exorbitant child support payments that don’t actually have to be spent on the child.
Granted, some people are better at playing the game than others, but structurally the playing field is tilted to the maximum in favor of women. Oh, but some men can say mean things, so, “oh no, it’s the patriarchy” or something.